Health and the Rise of Civilization

Civilized nations popularly assume that “primitive” societies are poor, ill, and malnourished and that progress through civilization automatically implies improved health. In this provocative new book, Mark Nathan Cohen challenges this belief. Using evidence from epidemiology, anthropology, and archaeology, Cohen provides fascinating evidence about the actual effects of civilization on health, suggesting that some aspects of civilization create as many health problems as they prevent or cure. “[This book] is certain to become a classic-a prominent and respected source on this subject for years into the future. . . .

If you want to read something that will make you think, reflect and reconsider, Cohen’s Health and the Rise of Civilization is for you.”-S. Boyd Eaton, Los Angeles Times Book Review “A major accomplishment. Cohen is a broad and original thinker who states his views in direct and accessible prose. . . . This is a book that should be read by everyone interested in disease, civilization, and the human condition.”-David Courtwright, Journal of the History of Medicine “Deserves to be read by anthropologists concerned with health, medical personnel responsible for communities, and any medical anthropologists whose minds are not too case-hardened. Indeed, it could provide great profit and entertainment to the general reader.”-George T. Nurse, Current Anthropology “Cohen has done his homework extraordinarily well, and the coverage of the biomedical, nutritional, demographic, and ethnographic literature about foragers and low energy agriculturists is excellent.

The subject of culture and health is near the core of a lot of areas of archaeology and ethnology as well as demography, development economics, and so on. The book deserves a wide readership and a central place in our professional libraries. As a scholarly summary it is without parallel.”-Henry Harpending, American Ethnologist

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